Research

2016
Matthew Baum and Phil Gussin. 11/1/2016. “Why it’s entirely predictable that Hillary Clinton’s emails are back in the news.” Washington Post: The Monkey Cage. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum. 10/11/2016. “How Media Newsworthiness Norms Have Sustained the Trump Candidacy.” Huffington Post. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum. 3/4/2016. “President Obama’s “Trump Card” in the Upcoming Supreme Court Nomination Battle.” Huffington Post. URL
See also: Op-Eds
2015
Matthew Baum and Philip B. K. Potter. 7/5/2015. “No one talks about democratization any more. Is there a better policy?” Washington Post: The Monkey Cage. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum and Yuri M. Zhukov. 4/2015. “Where You Stand Depends On Where You Sit…While Reading the Paper: Reporting Bias in Democracies and Autocracies.” The Political Communication Report. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum and Yuri M. Zhukov. 2/26/2015. “News coverage of civil conflict is biased in both democracies and autocracies.” Washington Post: The Monkey Cage. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum and Tim Groeling. 2015. “The Longest War Story: Elite Rhetoric, News Coverage, and The War in Afghanistan.” In Strategic Narratives, Public Opinion and War: Winning Domestic Support for the Afghan War. London: Routledge. Publisher's Version
Matthew A Baum and Yuri M. Zhukov. 2015. “Filtering revolution: Reporting bias in international newspaper coverage of the Libyan civil war.” Journal of Peace Research . Publisher's Version
Reporting bias – the media’s tendency to systematically underreport or overreport certain types of events – is a persistent problem for participants and observers of armed conflict. We argue that the nature of reporting bias depends on how news organizations navigate the political context in which they are based. Where government pressure on the media is limited – in democratic regimes – the scope of reporting should reflect conventional media preferences toward novel, large-scale, dramatic developments that challenge the conventional wisdom and highlight the unsustainability of the status quo. Where political constraints on reporting are more onerous – in non-democratic regimes – the more conservative preferences of the state will drive the scope of coverage, emphasizing the legitimacy and inevitability of the prevailing order. We test these propositions using new data on protest and political violence during the 2011 Libyan uprising and daily newspaper coverage of the Arab Spring from 113 countries. We uncover evidence of a status-quo media bias in non-democratic states, and a revisionist bias in democratic states. Media coverage in non-democracies underreported protests and nonviolent collective action by regime opponents, largely ignored government atrocities, and overreported those caused by rebels. We find the opposite patterns in democratic states.
Matthew A. Baum and Philip B. K. Potter. 2015. War and Democratic Constraint: How the Public Influences Foreign Policy. Paperback, Pp. 280. Princeton University Press. Publisher's Version

Why do some democracies reflect their citizens' foreign policy preferences better than others? What roles do the media, political parties, and the electoral system play in a democracy's decision to join or avoid a war? War and Democratic Constraint shows that the key to how a government determines foreign policy rests on the transmission and availability of information. Citizens successfully hold their democratic governments accountable and a distinctive foreign policy emerges when two vital institutions—a diverse and independent political opposition and a robust media—are present to make timely information accessible.

Matthew Baum and Philip Potter demonstrate that there must first be a politically potent opposition that can blow the whistle when a leader missteps. This counteracts leaders' incentives to obscure and misrepresent. Second, healthy media institutions must be in place and widely accessible in order to relay information from whistle-blowers to the public. Baum and Potter explore this communication mechanism during three different phases of international conflicts: when states initiate wars, when they respond to challenges from other states, or when they join preexisting groups of actors engaged in conflicts.

Examining recent wars, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq, War and Democratic Constraint links domestic politics and mass media to international relations in a brand-new way.

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2014
Matthew A. Baum and Philip B. K. Potter. 2/12/2014. “In democracies an effective media and opposition are both needed to sanction leaders’ foreign policy missteps .” The London School of Economics and Political Science . URL
See also: Op-Eds
2013
Matthew A. Baum. 10/16/2013. “Reflections on the Budget Standoff: How a Political Conflict Becomes an Institutional Crisis.” Huffington Post. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum. 9/13/2013. “Obama's good fortune on Syria.” Aljazeera America . URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum and Amber Boydstun. 9/8/2013. “Syria vs. Cyrus.” Huffington Post. URL
See also: Op-Eds
Matthew A. Baum and Tim Groeling. 2013. “Partisan News Before Fox: Newspaper Partisanship and Partisan Polarization, 1881-1972 ”. Publisher's Version
How do partisan media affect polarization and partisanship? The rise of Fox News, MSNBC, and hyper-partisan outlets online gives this question fresh salience, but in this paper, we argue that the question is actually not new: prior to the broadcast era, newspapers dominated American mass communication. Many of these were identified as supporting one party over the other in their news coverage. While scholars have studied the composition and impact of the partisan press during their 19th-century height, the political impact of the gradual decline of these partisan papers remains relatively under-examined. The unnoted vitality and endurance of partisan newspapers (which constituted a majority of American newspapers until the 1960s) represents a huge hole in our understanding of how parties communicate. As a consequence of this omission, scholars have ignored a potentially vital contributing factor to changing patterns of partisan voting. In this paper, we examine both the degree and influence of partisanship in historical newspapers. We begin by content analyzing news coverage in the Los Angeles Times from 1885-1986 and the Atlanta Constitution from 1869-1945. To avoid problems of selection bias and the absence of a neutral baseline of coverage in the coded news, we focus on a subset of partisan news for which we have access to neutral coverage of a full population of potential stories: the obituaries of U.S. Senators. By coding whether and how the papers covered the deaths of these partisans over time, we are able to systematically test for bias. We then collect information on newspaper editorial stances from Editor and Publisher’s Annual Yearbook to examine the impact of newspaper partisanship on voting patterns in presidential elections from 1932-92. Specifically, we test whether the proportion of partisan news outlets in a given media market explains changes in the rate of polarized voting.
Matthew A. Baum and Philip B. K. Potter. 2013. “Looking for Audience Costs in all the Wrong Places: Electoral Institutions, Media Access, and Democratic Constraint.” The Journal of Politics . Publisher's Version
For leaders to generate credibility through audience costs, there must be mechanisms in place that enable citizens to learn about foreign policy failures. However, scholars have paid relatively little attention to variations among democracies in the extent to which the public is able to obtain this sort of information. We argue here that electoral institutions play this role by influencing the number of major political parties in a country and, with it, the extent and depth of opposition to the executive. Opposition leads to whistle-blowing, which makes it more likely that that the public will actually hear about a leader’s foreign policy blunders. The effectiveness of this whistle-blowing, however, is conditional on the public’s access to the primary conduit for communication between leaders and citizens: the mass media. We test these expectations statistically, demonstrating that leaders in systems with these attributes fare better with respect to their threats and the reciprocation of conflicts that they initiate. These findings suggest that democracies are not automatically able to generate credibility through audience costs and that the domestic institutions and political processes that link the public and leaders must be taken seriously.
potterbaumjopsupplementalappendix.pdf potterbaumjop.pdf
Kathleen Hancock, Marijke Breuning, and Matthew A. Baum. 2013. “Women and Pre-Tenure Scholarly Productivity in International Studies: An Investigation into the Leaky Career Pipeline.” International Studies Perspective . Publisher's Version
2012
Matthew A. Baum and Henry R. Nau. 2012. “Foreign Policy Worldviews and US Standing in the World”. Publisher's Version
What do Americans think about the US role in world affairs and why do they think as they do? Existing scholarship identifies some general attitudes Americans hold toward world affairs, rejecting isolationism and favoring multilateralism, but few studies explore more specific attitudes such as assessments of US standing in the world (defined as foreign views of America’s capability, credibility and esteem abroad). American National Election Study data from 1958-2008 provide one such data point, which shows a strong correlation between party identification and attitudes toward US standing defined as weakness. When Democrats occupy the White House, Republicans generally see US standing falling. The reverse holds true when Republicans hold the White House. Past studies conclude that this correlation is primarily a matter of partisanship and domestic political ideology (conservative vs. liberal). In this article we investigate a deeper and more novel explanation rooted in the independent influence of individuals’ foreign policy worldviews. Respondents assess US standing based on nationalist, realist, conservative and liberal internationalist views of the world. Across multiple statistical investigations, we find that while party ID remains a powerful heuristic for defining attitudes toward standing, foreign policy worldviews also exert a distinct influence on such attitudes, especially for more politically sophisticated respondents.
Matthew A. Baum. 2012. “Partisan Media and Attitude Polarization: The Case of Healthcare Reform.” In Regulatory Breakdown The Crisis of Confidence in U.S. Regulation. University of Pennsylvania Press. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum and Tim Groeling. 2012. “War Through Red- and Blue-Colored Glasses: Partisan News Self-Selection and Public Opinion on the NATO Intervention in Libya ”. Publisher's Version
This paper uses an online media exposure experiment to examine the role of selective exposure on attitude formation and reinforcement regarding the U.N. intervention in Libya shortly after its initiation. In particular, we examine both the baseline level of selective exposure behavior and levels following treatment to a condition where participants thought they might be called upon to defend their positions in a debate format. We find evidence that both the personal characteristics and attitudes of participants, as well as the setting in which they are being asked to conduct their information search, influence the quality and extensiveness of their information search, as well as their likelihood to expose themselves to information that disputes their prior opinions and incorporate such arguments into their reasoning process.
Matthew A. Baum and Yuri M. Zhukov. 2012. “What Determines the News About Foreign Policy? Newspaper Ownership, Crisis Dynamics and the 2011 Libyan Uprising”. Publisher's Version
Why does media coverage of foreign policy vary across and within countries? We examine the sources of this variation using a new dataset of 102,568 articles on the 2011 Libyan uprising and subsequent NATO intervention published by 1,925 newspapers in 50 countries. We find that newspaper ownership structures and networks play an important role in shaping the nature and extent of foreign policy coverage. Higher circulation, independent newspapers offer more extensive coverage and place a greater emphasis on hard news topics and themes, while papers within larger ownership networks display the opposite patterns, net of circulation. In the context of the Arab Spring, we also find that -- compared to more selective forms of violence -- incidents of indiscriminate force by the Libyan regime tended to push newspapers toward a greater focus on policy-oriented stories and more open critique of a government’s performance in managing the crisis. By shaping the scope, tone and content of media coverage, these factors are likely to play important roles in determining whether and under what circumstances citizens support their countries’ foreign policies.

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